I suppose it really all began in 1995, when I was a senior in high school. I was introduced to Buddhism through a book called The Heart of Understanding, by Thich Nhat Hahn. At the end of one passage, I placed the book on my chest and looked over the landscape of my parents serene and open backyard. I could not articulate it, but I knew that something had noticeably shifted. My perceptions had changed, and the world looked different to me. Though I do not remember the passage, I am certain that was my first appreciation for the deep interconnectedness of all things. I was a changed person, and felt I had received darshan through its pages.
Only two years later, the practice of yoga found me as a very driven, Type A college student. At the tender age of 19 I had already established a slew of unhealthy and unhelpful habits that were effecting my body and mind. My boyfriend at the time had bought several yoga books from the library book sale. The books were from yoga’s swell of popularity in the 1970′s (where everyone was wearing black unitards), and they smelled like they had been hiding in a musty basement. Still, I was intrigued. I attempted to practice, but the whole approach was lost on me. My type A tendencies were strong, and it took several tries to get me out of my impatient mind and into my body. I practiced sporadically, but didn’t take an official yoga class for beginners for three more years. Once I attended a class with a real live teacher, once I learned the importance of uniting breath and movement, everything clicked. This was IT.
I quickly began to attend as many yoga classes as I could afford, and felt the unmistakable pull of a life path calling me. It came at a time when I was engaging in some serious reflection and reevaluation. My yoga teacher at the time encouraged me to consider teaching yoga as well, and I knew (once that small voice of doubt had been hushed) that it was to be. Being a yoga teacher spoke to my deepest calling. I had begun the journey inside myself and found that I had been given the gift (and opportunity!) to share yoga with others. I began teaching in the spring of 2001, and completed my 200 hour certification at Kriplau Center the following summer.
I have been blessed to have taught thousands of students over the years. They teach me just as much (some days more) than I teach them. We gather day after day, until the days are woven into years of sadhana (practice) and friendship. Not a single day passes that I do not feel the sweet wonder of how I came to be so blessed to have this life to call mine in this beautiful world.
In 2002 I went on a yoga retreat to Costa Rica and was introduced to a healing modality called The BodyTalk System. After a single session I felt a swift and powerful healing take place in my being that I had never experienced before. Even as I lied in total stillness I felt the pulse of life force (being channeled by the skilled practitioner) flow through my body. It was a like being gifted an expansion of consciousness without any effort on my part, and made an immediate and permanent impression on me. It only further affirmed the body/mind’s phenomenal capacity to heal and experience aliveness. After years of singing its praises, knew that BodyTalk was a modality that I needed to do for others. I dove in and had taken every module offered and earned my certification in 2 1/2 years. In 2014 I also reached out to a dear friend and Reiki master, and was attuned to the first level of Reiki with my beloved and soon to be mother in law in by my side.
I am nearly two decades into this work, and I love and believe in what I do more than ever. I truly see that my work brings to me some of the most amazing people in my community of Bloomington/Normal and beyond. I see that my work has meaning and purpose. I get to help others to find those very things they are searching for, for themselves, within themselves. And that brings magic to my everyday.
The Summer of 2013 opened my eyes to the need for me to follow a deeper commitment to seva in my community. Years of teaching showed me that yoga was growing increasingly exclusive and expensive. I saw that the deep teachings were being glossed over, and my calling for Karma Yoga (the path of service), and Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion) was undeniable. Out of all the years of teaching, I had never felt more passionate that yoga should be made available to ALL regardless of ability, finances, or age. It was this that inspired me to found The OM Tribe, which is a not for profit organization committed to welcoming all to the many paths of yoga and growing a cOMmUNITY. I was able to bring together a group of phenomenal teachers willing to do seva and volunteer their time to teach free yoga classes, and by the following year we had enough financial support from students able to afford to pay all teachers for their talents! Our biggest class topped 80 students gathering in Franklin Park, Bloomington, IL. My heart was overflowing, and does every year, when I see people gather in my neighborhood for the love of yoga.
I bow deeply to all who allow me to follow my bliss in this life, professionally and personally. A teacher is nothing without people to teach, a healer, nothing without people to help heal, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to have the best job on Earth.
Jai Bhagwan & Namaste (with all my love)
Tonya Keach Moist